Toughie 1238 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 1238

Toughie No 1238 by Warbler

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** – Enjoyment **

Not the most sparkling of Warbler puzzles. A mixture of write-in clues, including rather a lot of easy anagrams, and a few that were more tricky. For those who solved this quickly and have time on their hands, I can thoroughly recommend the BBC4 documentary linked to at 11d.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.


1a Stay in Dallas involved festival (3,6,3)
ALL SAINTS DAY An anagram (involved) of STAY IN DALLAS.

9a Slave switched direction to discover identity (4)
SELF A slave or bonded labourer in which Left is swapped for Right (switched direction).

10a Shock associated with northern turn’s music (4,1,4)
ROCK N ROLL A word for to shock, the abbreviation for Northern, and a word for to turn.

12a To maintain central core of gas mains is tricky (6)
INSIST The answer is given by the middle letters (central core) of GASMAINSISTRICKY.

13a We old lot could be quids in! (4-2-2)
WELL-TO-DO An anagram of (could be) WE OLD LOT.

15a In a sorry state, depressed athlete missing a little time for training (4-2-4)
DOWN AT HEEL A word for depressed, then an anagram of (for training) ATHLETE after deleting the abbreviation for Time.

16a Initially iodine treatment can heal skin infection (4)
ITCH The first letters of (initially) Iodine Treatment Can Heal.

18a Spiritual stronghold (4)
AERY A double definition in which both parts are in variant spellings. The solution is both a synonym for light and insubstantial, and a word for a high and inaccessible place.

20a Instrument found in boiler house (10)
KETTLEDRUM A charade of a device or vessel for boiling water, plus a slang term for house that was unfamiliar to me (thanks Gazza for helping with that).

ARVE Error: need id and provider

23a Rendered unconscious from combination of oxygen, steam and carbon monoxide (8)
COMATOSE An anagram (combination) of STEAM, the chemical symbol or oxygen and the formula for carbon monoxide. (Not sure this one would have got past Big Dave, who’s very strict about indirect anagram fodder!)

24a Film of oily matter (6)
GREASE A musical film from the 1970s whose title is the oily stuff used to style hair.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

26a Dependency on self? I am confused (4,2,3)
ISLE OF MAN … A British Crown Dependency. An anagram (confused) of ON SELF I AM.

27a Paid for food (4)
FEED A rare verb meaning to pay, in the past tense, is also a word for (animal) food.

28a One’s used in knitting leg-bands — 16 will go round top of thigh (6-6)
GARTER STITCH The first letter (top) of Thigh goes between a word for leg-bands and the solution to 16a.


2d Threescore years and ten — if energy’s left first, sleep’s taken over (8)
LIFESPAN The abbreviation for Left comes before (first) IF from the clue, the abbreviation in physics for energy, and a reversal (taken over) of a synonym for sleep’s.

3d Agile mole grabs gopher’s tail (4)
SPRY The last letter (tail) of gopheR goes inside a mole or secret agent.

4d Ten crimes solved — number getting framed increases (10)
INCREMENTS An anagram of (solved) TEN CRIMES into which the one-letter abbreviation for Number is inserted (getting framed).

5d Mass of seaweed (6)
TANGLE A twisted mass is also an alternative name for oarweed.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

6d Hippie in Germany put work into retreat (7)
DROPOUT The one-letter abbreviation for Germany followed by two-letter crosswordese for work inside (put into) a word meaning a disorderly retreat of the losing side in battle.

7d In exuberant style Rome may well start to hang bunting (12)
YELLOWHAMMER … the bunting that sings “A little bit of bread and no cheese”. An anagram of (in exuberant style) ROME MAY WELL and the initial letter of (start to) Hang.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

8d Up-and-down experience in the present and past (6)
SEESAW A verb meaning to experience, first in the present tense and then in the past tense.

11d Eyeing up the girls may cause twitching (12)
BIRDWATCHING A hobby that in mild slang could be taken to mean eyeing up girls.

ARVE Error: need id and provider

14d Groups in braces put on singles? (10)
THREESOMES The groups that result if singles are added to pairs (braces).

17d Huge mistake to block right to get a raise in charge (8)
TERRIFIC A verb meaning to mistake (or rather, to make a mistake) goes inside (to block) a reversal (to get a raise) of right or proper, followed by the abbreviation for in charge.

19d Walker who goes on and on (7)
RAMBLER A cross-country walker could also be someone who talks endlessly.

21d Covered in blood, rower shouted noisily (6)
ROARED A member of rowing team goes inside (covered in) the colour of blood.

22d Street above York put up flashing light (6)
STROBE The abbreviation for street followed by a reversal (put up) of the abbreviation of the Roman name for York

25d One’s against being kept in quarantine (4)
ANTI The solution is hidden (kept) in the word QUARANTINE.

Over to you – please rate and comment on this puzzle below.

36 comments on “Toughie 1238

  1. Very easy for a toughie but reasonably enjoyable. Thanks to Warbler and to Toro for the excellent review. (the down hints are shown as across)

  2. As a beginner I was pleased to be able to complete this. I began with the anagrams. I didn’t understand how I got to some of the answers and it is brilliant to be able to find out here.

    1. Well done on cracking this one, Ally, and thanks for commenting. Are you new to cryptic crosswords or just to the Toughie series?

      1. New to cryptic puzzles. I have worked my way through several books… This is the first Toughie I have completed.

        1. Congratulations in that case. Tuesdays are very much at the gentle end of the Toughie spectrum, but I for one still find them a step up from the backpager – even if some of the dab hands on this site don’t!

  3. The easiest Toughie I can recall, helped by some very obvious anagrams. Enjoyable nonetheless, especially 26a and 8d.

    Thanks to Warbler and to Toro

    btw I think we can forgive the otherwise superfluous “gas” in 12a since it ensures that “central core” is literally true.

  4. Thoroughly humdrum and didn’t raise even the ghost of a smile. On the plus side, most of the clues made sense when read

  5. Videos added and the numbering corrected. It’s the annual Birdfair here in Rutland this weekend, so I’ve chosen a couple of clips to illustrate the two clues with an ornithological connection.

  6. Gentle stuff today. Thanks to Warbler, and to Toro.

    12a hint – why is the word ‘gas’ superfluous? I thought the hidden answer is exactly in the middle of (central core) GASMAINSISTRICKY.

    1. Hi Jezza. Halcyon makes the same point. It’s just more usual and generally more accepted to require the hidden word to span part of each word in the “fodder”. But I’ll relent and change the hint, which I didn’t write very clearly!

      1. I think we can make a distinction between a clue which tells us that the solution is concealed within [the following words] or a part of [ditto] and one which tells us that the solution is bang in the centre. In the former case there’s no excuse for superfluous words that don’t contain letters of the solution. Not so in the latter case.

  7. Would certainly not have been out of place on the back page where it would have got a 3* difficulty rating, so I guess only 1* in Toughie land. A couple of those pesky four-letter varmints caused problems again – especially the rather sneaky 18a.

  8. Not really a toughie at all. Still it gives me a chance to comment on this page where I am rarely present. I am still struggling with last weeks Beam. Hopefully Saint Sharon will have thrown it out today

  9. Déjà vu?

    A conspiracy or just coincidence?

    26a = Today’s Quickie Pun.

    24a – I’m sure I’ve seen this somewhere earlier today – also 24a.

  10. OK, a bit easy perhaps but the none the worse for that. Makes me feel more intelligent.

    Got 20a of course but have never heard of “drum” meaning “house”. However, it is in the latest BRB.

    I just loved 28a. At last, a clue for we lady knitters!

    1. I wondered about the duplications too. They often occur – surely not purely by chance. 24a is also in today’s Cryptic.

      1. Well, today might be an exception – or just a rare coincidence, but I’m willing to bet that the usual recurrence of common words/clue types etc. is simply just that: chance. It’s a bit like the fact that you only need 23 people in a room for there to be a 50/50 probability that two will have the same birthday. Given the number of words out there, the number of crossword-friendly words, and the number we’ll encounter over a memorable period, the chances of these duplications is a lot greater than we intuitively think.

  11. Woohoo! My best ever attempt at a Toughie – I can so nearly say I completed it “all my own self”… Just for that pesky 18a, where I did even think of the right answer, but rejected it, not thinking it was really a good enough synonym for spiritual until seeing it there in the BRB. Grr!

    Yes, yes, I know it was super-easy for a Toughie, but please don’t tell me that now, because it will generate a fierce and frowny scowl! ;)

    Favourite clue is 8d – lovely penny drop moment when it finally came :).

    1. Hear hear! I too was feeling so pleased to finish a Toughie- and then was daft enough to read the comments about its easiness from all the connoisseurs!

      1. Well done you! It’s important to take comments about difficulty in context. So much is down to experience rather than anything else, as many constructions and wordplays naturally come around again and again. Plus, the people most likely to comment are the real crossword fiends, which will skew the experience for the lurkers. That said, people are of course most welcome to say if a puzzle was easy for them – and if I ever find one of the hardest crosswords a doddle, I’ll certainly want to shout it out – and add a

  12. Lovely surface readings , which make the crossword more fun, for me anyway.I didn’t think it was all that easy.Still , solved without hints, before CS’ recommendation. Went for a drive in Co Wicklow, and managed to have a g n t ina lovely old garden in delightful sunshine, between thunder storms ! I wasn’t driving.
    Thanks Toro and Warbler !

  13. OK, pretty easy, but surely that’s not totally out of place at this stage of the week. About 1.5*/3*, l think. I loved 7d – my favourite little bunting, and still reasonably common in rural East Cornwall. Both 18a and the alternative meaning of 5d were new words to me, so thanks to Warbler for enhancing my vocabulary as well. Thanks to Toro for the review.

  14. Completed without too many problems apart from a couple of pesky 4 letter answers which took a bit of head scratching. 18a because we didn’t think the synonyms were close enough and 27a where we thought the answer was too close to one of the words in the clue. Apart from that, a pleasant solve. With reference to 24a, we wonder what the chances are of the same answer occurring with the same number in both of today’s puzzles.
    Thanks Warbler and Toro.

    1. I had “fare” at 27a for ages, which caused problems. And I hadn’t noticed that 24a was at exactly the same number as well – I thought StanXYZ was just making a déjà-vu joke in his comment above. Added to the quickie pun, and it’s quite a day for cross-referencing those crosswords!

  15. Thanks Toro for the review and Warbler for a lovely puzzle.I enjoyed the smooth surfaces, I much prefer that to what seems like gobbledygook.Lots and lots of likes , especially 3d,7d, 8d and 11d and 15a.
    I went for a drive today in Co Wicklow and had a G ‘n T in a beautiful old garden in glorious sunshine, that is, between what the Met office describe, as thunderous rain showers.I wasn’t driving.

    1. Eh…. the site refused my first comment telling me I’d said it twice and now I really have said it twice.Must be more patient !

  16. Thanks to Warbler and to Toro for the review and hints. A fun puzzle, needed 4 lookups & 2 hints to finish. Was 2*/3* for me. Favourite was 23a.

  17. Thought I’d add this one to my very short list of successes – but no, I was tripped up by 18a and 27a. (My version; AURA & FREE – sadly both wrong). Thought 14d was particularly cunning. Thank you to all for this puzzle . Sh-Shoney.

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